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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, August 8, 2022
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
GA Dem Seeks to 'Unpack' SCOTUS, Hold 'Ethically Bankrupt' Justices to Account: 'BradCast' 8/4/22
Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) on Court expansion, term limits, more; Also: TN votes...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Back-to-back storms reveal U.S. not ready for climate impacts; Climate change increasing humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network almost here...
Recent GNRs: 8/2/22 - 7/28/22 - Archives...
UNconventional Times: The Power of Abortion Rights (and Danger of Election Deniers) on the Ballot: 'BradCast' 8/3/22
Critical lessons (and warnings) from primary results in AZ, KS, MI, MO, WA, OH...
Only Way Out?: The Need for a Diplomatic Solution to End Russia's War on Ukraine: 'BradCast' 8/2/22
Guest: George Beebe of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft...
'Green News Report' 8/2/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Death toll rises in catastrophic KY flooding; Extreme heat, wildfires sear U.S. West; Big Oil's big profits; PLUS: Manchin-Schumer compromise bill a game changer for climate?...
Recent GNRs: 7/28/22 - 7/26/22 - Archives...
Too Little Too Late?
Or Not a Moment Too Soon?: 'BradCast' 8/1/22
Can Dems finally pass the Schumer-Manchin compromise bill to save the climate (and maybe themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday's primaries; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Party of Personal Freedom' Toons
Bringing new meaning to "freedom isn't free" in PDiddie's latest collection of the best toons of this past week...
Leaked: FL Power Co. Secretly Took Over 'News' Site, Ran Fake Candidates, Targeted Critics: 'BradCast' 7/29/22
Guest: Energy and Policy's Alissa Jean Schafer; OAN cooked?; Stewart v. GOP Sens...
Establishment Pressure Haunted Manchin Into Major Deal on Taxes, Healthcare and Climate: 'BradCast' 7/28/22
And Schumer outfoxed McConnell to do it! Also: More signs of UNconventional midterms...
'Green News Report' 7/28/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas to Europe; PLUS: Public pressure leads USPS to quadruple plan for electric delivery trucks...
Recent GNRs: 7/26/22 - 7/21/22 - Archives...
Good News! DoJ Criminal Probe for Trump, E-Trucks for USPS!: 'BradCast' 7/27/22
Guest: Adrian Martinez of Earthjustice; Also: Biden's back from COVID...
Fake Electors, Real Crimes:
'BradCast' 7/26/22
Also: Climate chaos; Hand-marked ballots save day in IL; PA's GOP Guv nom at center of 2020 'fake' Electors plot; Biden slams pro-insurrection, anti-cop Trump...
'Green News Report' 7/26/22
New fire explodes near Yosemite; Concurrent heat waves are now six times more frequent due to global warming; PLUS: Rich nations owe poor ones a LOT of money...
Activist Supreme Court's Abortion Ruling Resurrects U.S. Free/Slave State Divide
Anti-choicers embracing misogynistic 21st century 'Fugitive Slave Act' mentality, argues Ernest A. Canning...
Sunday 'No, Because Freedom' Toons
Excercise your freedom, while you still have it, to check out PDiddie's collection of the week's best political toons!...
J6 HEARINGS (Day 8): Trump 'Did Not Fail to Act, He Chose Not To': 'BradCast' 7/22/22
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, Richard 'RJ' Eskow; ALSO: BANNON FOUND GUILTY...
'Green News Report' 7/21/22
Consequences of extreme heat piling up, getting worse; E.U. warns Russia tightening grip; PLUS: Biden announces plans for Executive Actions on climate crisis...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
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'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: John Nichols of The Nation; Also: State Dept. has no records of gifts to Trump; Don Jr. plotted to steal 2020 two days after the election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2022 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The corruption never ends and will only get far worse until someone finally faces accountability. Whether it's Donald Trump for his unspeakable corruption and attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election or Justice Clarence Thomas, whose corruption has been well-documented for decades now, as he appears to have joined the effort to help Trump steal that election --- or, at the very least, avoid accountability for trying. Thomas needs to be impeached, argues our guest today, or we might as well put our Constitution "through the shredder." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

As to Trump's unspeakable corruption, yes, we are still learning about much more of it. As TPM reported over the weekend, apparently the State Department is now reporting they have no records of gifts given to Trump (or Vice President Mike Pence and other Administration members) by foreign leaders during Trump's final year in office. Worse, according to the State Dept.'s report, the Office of the Chief of Protocol's Gift Unit reports no records of any gifts at all from January 20, 2017 (the day Trump took office) until the end of his first failed term in January of 2020. No record of what the President of the United States received from Foreign Leaders?! Um, that's not good.

We've come to expect this kind of grotesque corruption from Trump and his family members. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn over the weekend, as we did via CNN, that Don Jr. was texting then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows just two days after Election Day in November of 2020 --- before the race had even been called or all of its votes tallied --- to detail one way after another that the election could and should be stolen for his father. "We control them all," Don Jr. told Meadows, while describing the way that state legislatures or Congress, or even the judiciary could help steal the election before Team Trump even knew for certain they had lost. "We have operational control Total leverage....POTUS must start 2nd term now," Trump Sr.'s corrupt son instructed the White House Chief of Staff on November 5th, 2020, according to messages obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection.

It's troubling enough that the man and his party who are planning to steal the 2024 election, if necessary, have yet to be held to account. It is no less troubling that at least one member of the U.S. Supreme Court is corrupt enough to help them. Outrage over Ginni Thomas, the far-right activist wife of far-right activist Justice Clarence Thomas, having texted Meadows dozens of times after the election, encouraging the Administration to steal the election for Trump, faded quickly after it was initially reported just over two weeks ago by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Sure, there is a war in Europe and Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, but a corrupt sitting Supreme Court Justice --- willing to be the lone dissenting vote to potentially keep his own wife's text messages out of the hands of House J6 Committee is impeachment-worthy, according to my guest today, JOHN NICHOLS, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation.

The news about corruption of Clarence and Ginni is just the latest apparent law-breaking by the couple. We've been reporting on it for more than a decade. So has Nichols, who tells me he reported on conflicts of interest regarding Ginni's far-right activism 22 years ago. "Ginni Thomas was already working with the Bush-Cheney Administration at the same time that Clarence Thomas joined in that closely divided decision to close down [the 2000 Presidential] recount," he notes today. "So this woman has a quarter century of engagement in politics in a way that should not only have led to recusals by her husband, but ultimately, when he didn't recuse, should have led to his removal from the Supreme Court."

But enough is enough. And it would nice if both the corporate media (which has largely ignored this matter) and elected Democrats (who have tepidly called for Thomas to recuse himself from 2020-related cases) starting doing something about it. "We have reached that point," Nichols argues, when asked if Justice Thomas needs to be held to account for "seri­ous ethical or crim­inal miscon­duct" after the House Select Committee gathered evidence of his wife's texts to the White House Chief of Staff. "Trump tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election in what can accurately be referred to only as a coup attempt. And he sought to hold office illegally. That is a coup. When you are investigating something of that consequence, if there is even the slightest possibility that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court used his position to try to undermine or limit that investigation --- because his wife was a co-conspirator, because his political allies were involved in the issue --- that has to be investigated. It is best investigated, in my opinion, in an impeachment inquiry."

"We're having a discussion about recusal at this point for Clarence Thomas? This is absurd!," Nichols insists. "This guy isn't going to recuse. He's made it absolutely clear. This is like saying, 'At the very least, Jesse James should recuse himself from robbing banks.' The crime has already been committed! The notion that we would now say 'Oh, he should recuse himself going forward' doesn't get to the heart of the matter, and it doesn't get to the reality. The only option we have in this case is impeachment."

But, of course, even if Democrats in the House stepped up to do the right thing, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans would never remove Thomas from the High Court, right? "For those who say, 'Oh, we can't do that because Mitch McConnell might not let us,' then you might as well take the Constitution out of the National Archives and put it through the shredder. What's the point of having an impeachment power if you don't use it in a moment like this?"

Good argument. And we've got much more along those lines with Nichols today, including some of his thoughts on the huge hole left behind in the progressive media following last week's tragic loss of longtime media critic Eric Boehlert, and on whether he believes Attorney Merrick Garland and the DoJ are taking the appropriate steps to hold Trump and the rest of his cabal to account for their part in the insurrection (as discussed last Thursday on this show with former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason) and the broader attempt to steal a Presidential election before our very eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: Atrocities in Ukraine, in the U.S. and why protecting democracy remains more important than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2022 6:59pm PT  

We all woke up to atrocities on Sunday. In Ukraine and in Sacramento, California. Russian war crimes in Europe and another mass shooting in the U.S. On today's BradCast, we detail the atrocities in both places before turning to the fight for the only thing that still has a chance of stopping them: democracy. But we can't have democracy without voting systems the public can oversee, and that remains a huge problem, even in our own home county of Los Angeles. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, some of the newly revealed, gruesome details and evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by fleeing Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians in newly liberated towns, villages and suburbs outside of Kyiv. Despite being witnessed by independent journalists and catalogued by outside watchdogs like Human Rights Watch, which describes some of the crimes as "unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian citizens," including "rape, murder, and other violent acts," the Russian Government contends the charges are "fake" and little more than "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." In response on Monday, President Biden reiterated his belief that Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal."

The gruesome body count in the U.S. also continued to mount over the weekend, as another mass shooting, this time in downtown Sacramento, left six dead and more than a dozen injured after "at least fifty rounds" were "fired right into the crowd" with high-powered weaponry during bustling Saturday night revelry, according to an eyewitness. That, just one day after Georgia's legislature passed a new law allowing concealed weapons to be carried pretty much anywhere without the need for a license. They are the 23rd state to do so. Our gun violence epidemic is getting worse, not better, as Republicans refuse to allow any action that might lessen America's shamefully continuing scourge.

But tyranny is not going to defeat itself. Not in Ukraine. Not in the U.S. To that end, we remain vigilant in our efforts to help the public try and oversee this year's critical mid-term elections. Unfortunately, problems with our un-overseeable and unverifiable voting systems continue into yet another election year in so-called "red" and "blue" states alike. While the GOP is actively undermining democracy with new voter suppression laws in "red" states, vulnerable electronic voting and tabulation systems remain a huge problem across the nation.

Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (or, VSAP) across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year's Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards.

The County was required to correct the violations detailed in the Conditional Certification in the months following the election, though they failed to do so in many cases --- for years. Now, the County is seeking state certification of VSAP v3.0 but, according to our guests today, has still failed to correct a number of critical security issues that failed more than two years ago.

We're joined today to discuss these concerns in advance of California's June 7th mid-term primary elections by SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-profit Free Speech for People and by IAN PATTON of the Long Beach Reform Coalition (he is also now running for the Long Beach City Council). Both recently wrote a letter [PDF] to California Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, detailing uncorrected security issues in the VSAP system and urging her to force L.A. County to fix them before issuing certification to the newly updated voting and counting system yet again.

We invited L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan --- the VSAP system is his brainchild --- to join us as well, after his office recently described Greenhalgh's public testimony on her concerns about certification for VSAP 3.0 as "mis- and disinformation". In declining to join us today, Logan once again accused Greenhalgh and Patton of "mis-stating facts" and took a swipe at the election integrity advocates by smearing them as if they were part of Donald Trump's mob of conspiracists offering evidence-free claims of fraud since his loss in 2020. Logan charged the documented concerns detailed in Greenhalgh and Patton's memo to the Secretary "contributes to further the false narrative about elections integrity and transparency that is pervading the country."

For her part, Greenhalgh has been an expert in elections security, integrity and transparency for decades. Patton had represented the Long Beach Reform Coalition in a lawsuit against the VSAP systems long before Trump's 2020 sore loser act, when a ballot initiative in Long Beach failed by just 16 votes. After the Coalition raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a recount of that initiative, they were informed by Logan that the price would, in fact, be hundreds of thousands of dollars instead-- to count just a few thousand votes. The reason, as we reported at the time, is that the new VSAP system is deployed at Voting Centers across the County, which have replaced community precincts. That means that Long Beach voters may vote at any Voting Center in the County, where more than 4 million cast ballots in 2020. Logan attempted to charge the Coalition for the hours and hours it would have taken the county to cull through some 4 million ballots (computer-marked by VSAP and hand-marked by mail voters) in order to find the ones cast by Long Beach voters at any of the hundreds of Voting Centers in the County. Of course, this is just another problem with the Voting Center model, particularly in large counties like L.A. The ballot initiative that is said to have passed by 16 votes never did receive a hand recount to make sure the results were accurate.

Greenhalgh details the security vulnerabilities that remain in the VSAP system, despite state requirements that they be corrected by last year. She was also surprised to hear that Logan claimed in his email to us that "the VSAP 3.0 upgrade is over and it has been approved by the Secretary of State."

"I'm disappointed that the Secretary is not taking further action to enforce these requirements, to really require LA County to meet them," she tells us. "Also it hasn't been updated on the website, that it's already been approved. That's not public information yet." We'll just take Logan's word for it, I guess.

For his part, Patton explains the aborted recount effort in Long Beach ("I'm not a conspiracy theorist in any way," he notes. "We have never alleged a rigged election. We were just talking about the facts. The facts are this was an extremely close election, and we were just not allowed to have a hand count."); the fact that L.A.'s $300 million voting system was promised to be the nation's first open source system (but has yet to disclose any of its source code); and whether he feels confident that his election for City Council this year will be accurately tallied under the still-unverifiable and virtually unrecountable new systems.

"We can speak very factually and say that vulnerabilities don't equate to a stolen election," Greenhalgh asserts, before describing Logan's smears as "extremely disheartening." She described the comments as "a new low to hear somebody try to smear and tar real serious questions, real serious issues that need to be addressed. We still have serious security issues in our election systems that need to be fixed. We all need to pull together to fix them. And if we are having election officials refuse to address those problems by dismissing them improperly as mis- and dis-information, there's two problems with that: We're not going to actually fix the problems, but also we have a crisis of confidence in our election system right now. And when somebody in a position of power says something that is pretty easily proven to be false....they're not going to have a lot of confidence in his ability to run an election. And we can't afford that. He needs to be honest."

Logan never did cite any specific claims from Greenhalgh and Patton's concerns that he believed to be misinformation, despite my repeated query. He has a standing invitation to join us on the show any time to do so. Hiding behind false claims by rightwingers of "stolen elections" is unbecoming of a public official, particularly when the very specific concerns in question are legitimate and publicly well-documented.

There is much more discussed about all of this on today's show, and the concerns about similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices now in use across the country, along with the similarly problematic Voting Center model replacing community precincts in other counties and states.

California's primary this year is on June 7th. Cross your fingers that things work out. Good luck even being able to figure out afterward is they did or didn't...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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The President takes on Big Oil, 'Putin's price hike' at the pump; DeSantis' new voting law struck down, found unconstitutional, racially motivated...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2022 6:53pm PT  

We cover two big stories in depth on today's BradCast. One out of the White House which effects the world. The other out of Florida, which effects the rest of the nation...or, at least, it should. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

President Biden, on Thursday, announced that he is releasing one million barrels of oil, per day, for the next 180 days, from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve in hopes of lowering gas prices for Americans in response to what he described as the "Putin Price Hike".

In addition to the unprecedented release from the Reserve, Biden called out Big Oil companies for keeping prices high (previously known as war profiteering) as they see record profits and pad the pockets of investors and executives, even as Putin's war inflates prices on global energy markets. He also called on Congress to pass a "Use it or Lose it" law that would charge a fee to oil and gas producers who are sitting on as many as 9,000 unused drilling permits on more than a million acres of land, as prices rise for Americans at the pump.

At the same time, Biden announced his plan to invoke the Defense Production Act to encourage American production of minerals that are needed for electric vehicle battery production.

We share the President's remarks today at the White House and Desi Doyen helps us unpack what it all means --- for gas prices and for our climate crisis.

Next, the big news out of Florida. A federal judge on Thursday struck down parts of a new state law that makes voting much harder for many in the Sunshine State, finding it unconstitutional and racially motivated. Moreover, he invoked a key provision of the Voting Rights Act to prevent more such measures for the next ten years.

FL's Senate Bill 90 was adopted by the state's Republican legislature last year in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence free claims about fraud in the 2020 election. That, despite Florida's claims that the election was well run and free of fraud or other problems. The new law limits the use of drop boxes; adds more ID requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; restricts who may collect and drop off ballots; further restricts third-party voter registration; and makes it a crime to give voters food or water to voters as they wait in line to cast their ballot, among other restrictions challenged by the League of Women Voters of Florida and other voting rights advocates.

In his 288-page order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker slammed parts of the measure as racially motivated and little more than a law enacted "to improve the Republican Party's electoral prospects." His ruling quotes Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. throughout, while asserting that plaintiffs "allege that SB 90 runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters --- all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power...Having reviewed all the evidence, this Court finds that, for the most part, Plaintiffs are right."

But the most noteworthy element of this story is that Judge Walker also invoked a little used provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act to "bail-in" the state of Florida to the VRA's preclearance requirement for the next 10 years. That provision, used against repeat violators of the VRA, will force the state to obtain approval from the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a three-judge federal panel before new voting laws that may have a racially disparate effect on voters can be implemented.

As UC-Irvine election law expert Rick Hasen described the ruling as "quite a blockbuster" and a "a huge deal." He told the New York Times, "This is an opinion that full throatedly reads the Voting Rights Act in the expansive way that Congress intended it to be read, and essentially dares the higher courts to overrule it." He also believes that "conservative 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court" is likely to do so, even though "the district court's analysis is probably right."

Florida Republicans are furious. Gov. Ron DeSantis calls the ruling "performative partisanship". The State's Republican Senate President calls it "highly unprofessional, inaccurate, and unbecoming of an officer of the court." That, as the League of Women Voters celebrated the ruling against "an anti-voter measure that raised barriers to voting with specific impacts on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students, and communities of color."

"State legislatures everywhere should recognize that anti-voter laws like SB 90 violate the fundamental rights of their constituents," said the LWV's Chief Counsel, adding: "We call on legislatures around the country to stop making laws that impede the rights of the people they are elected to protect and serve."

Naturally, Florida Republicans say they intend to appeal, and many think that our right-leaning federal appeals courts and/or our corrupt U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Judge Walker's landmark ruling. For now, however, it's a critical one that should be echoed against many of the intentionally discriminatory laws that have been adopted by GOP-controlled states over the past year.

We explain what it all means and why it matters on today's program.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report, recorded today before Biden's big White House announcement (though we anticipated it). We also detail Europe prepares for energy shortages, Poland's decision to ban Russian energy imports and much more, including a major milestone for solar power!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Also: GOP's KBJ confirmation idiocy; KY's anti-marriage equality clerk finally found guilty; 23,000 mail ballots rejected under new TX law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2022 6:47pm PT  

There were a surprising number of callers into yesterday's program who seemed to believe that if the U.S. simply left Ukraine to its own devices, somehow there wouldn't be a massive genocide and destruction of the Ukrainian state by Russia, and that it wouldn't somehow lead to WWIII. Those callers are wrong, I'm sorry to say. And I'm even sorrier that many of them are on the left. On today's BradCast we spend some time explaining how many have come to misunderstand a lot of bad and (often purposely) misleading information out there, and how deeply-ingrained (and well-justified!) anti-war sentiments against the U.S. war machine are now ill-serving some on the supposed left now that Russia is the actual aggressor. We also cover several ongoing fights for our own struggling democracy here at home --- in the U.S. Senate, at SCOTUS, and in both Kentucky and Texas. [Audio link to today's show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered or referenced today...

  • A quick review of Day 2 of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are spending their time questioning the first black female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court as a way to improve their own electoral ambitions and/or nab an appearance on Fox "News". ("Do you believe babies are racist, Ms. Jackson?") Since we don't care to privilege the lies, we don't spend much time on that idiocy, though there were some important exchanges with some of the Democratic Senators, including Jackson's thoughts on the importance of respecting long-settled issues of law and civil rights. That, as the GOP's current stolen, packed and bought majority on the High Court begins dismantling decades of well-established and critical legal precedents.
  • Then, some thoughts on some of our callers and emailers on yesterday's program, when we opened the phone lines up to listeners on why they believe President Biden's approval ratings remain low, even as his actions in response to Russia's barbaric attack on Ukraine are so wildly popular among Americans of all parties. We discuss why we believe those callers who want the U.S. to stop supporting Ukraine are deadly wrong about that, and why an emailer who cites Putin's pretext about "de-Nazification" in Ukraine has been wildly misled.
  • That conversation also includes some audio from an interview with a Rabbi in Odesa by NPR's investigative correspondent in Ukraine, Tim Mak. He is told by Rabbi Avraham Wolf, during the interview in a synagogue built by his wife's great great grandfather in 1898, that he believes talk about Nazis in Ukraine is "stupid" and that he has "never in 30 years" experienced any anti-semitism in Odesa.
  • The conversation on all of this also includes this weekend's remarks on ABC News from the courageous Marina Ovsyannikova, a producer at Russia's state-run Channel One, describing her "spontaneous decision" to appear on air with a "NO WAR" protest sign during a news report recently. "I could see what in reality was happening in Ukraine, and what we showed on our programs was very different from what was going on in reality," she explained on Sunday following her arrest, as she still faces a potential 15 years in prison under Putin's new censorship law. While she claims that most Russians oppose Putin's "gruesome war," Ovsyannikova determined that her televised protest might "show to the Russian people that [the state-run media outlet's reports were] just propaganda, expose this propaganda for what it is and maybe stimulate some people to speak up against the war."
  • Then, it's back to our own faltering democracy in the U.S., but with a bit of long-awaited good news for a change. After seven years of delays in court --- thanks to a well-moneyed far-right legal outfit --- Kim Davis, the infamous and Fox-famous Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk who cited "religious beliefs" for her refusal to issue marriage licenses after SCOTUS established the right to marriage equality in 2015, was finally found to have violated the law. In a lawsuit filed by several couples who were refused licenses to marry, a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge held that Davis "cannot use her own constitutional rights as a shield to violate the constitutional rights of others while performing her duties as an elected official.” A jury will determine the financial penalty for Davis, who lost her re-election bid in 2018. Of course her wingnut attorneys will attempt to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (even though they already rejected one of Davis' previous arguments...at least before Republicans stole their 6 to 3 majority on the High Court.)
  • In far less encouraging news, an AP analysis has determined that some 23,000 absentee voters in Texas' first-in-the-nation 2022 mid-term primaries on March 1, had their ballots rejected and never counted. AP finds roughly 13% of mail ballots were discarded under the TX GOP's new voter restriction law, SB 1, that they claimed would make it "easier to vote and harder to cheat". That, compared to the 2% of mail ballots that were rejected during the state's previous mid-term primaries in 2018. Thousands of voters in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning counties alike were disenfranchised under the first election held under the new law, though rejection rates were slightly higher in larger, more Dem-leaning counties. Mail voters in Harris County (Houston), for example, saw a gobsmacking rejection rate of 19%! In the weeks and months ahead, primaries will be held in some 17 other states where Republicans have passed new laws making it harder to vote in response to Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election.
  • Finally, and also speaking of Texas, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with out-of-control climate change-fueled wildfires spreading across the Lone Star State; unbelievably warm and unprecedented simultaneous extreme heat waves at both the North and South poles, and how KBJ's Senate confirmation reminds us yet again that elections (and voting!) have critical consequences...

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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Biden ends Russian imports, destroys Fox/GOP/Big Oil lies; Jan 6. insurrectionist 'guilty' on all counts; 'Proud Boy' indicted for U.S. Capitol conspiracy; Pardoned GOPer indicted for funneling Russian money to Trump 2016; Another former 'BradCast' guest indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 3/8/2022 7:10pm PT  

As the horrors of war continue in Ukraine today, we focus on the latest efforts to counter it by ending --- or trying to --- Russian oil and gas imports to the EU and US, and as we enjoy more accountability for GOP election fraudsters and insurrectionists, including one who funneled Russian money to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and another who used to appear on The BradCast from time to time. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Fossil fuel profiteer Shell Oil apologizes after getting caught secretly buying cheap Russian oil, even after pretending last week that it was ending its business with the country after their invasion of Ukraine. Does it smell "like Ukrainian blood?," Ukraine's Foreign Minister wonders.
  • On Tuesday, after nearly two hellish weeks of unspeakable humanitarian suffering in Ukraine and pressure from the public to do the right thing, several more major American companies --- McDonald's, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi --- finally decided to "pause" doing business in Russia.
  • The European Union, which has made the mistake of becoming reliant on Russia for about 45% of its gas imports, announced plans to try and wean themselves off two-thirds of it by year's end. Hopefully this will help hasten their move to clean, renewable energy.
  • President Biden announced today that the U.S. will halt all imports of Russian oil and gas. Hopefully this will help hasten our move to clean, renewable energy.
  • Also, both White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Biden pushed back hard against the obnoxiously phony claims by Republicans, Fox "News" and the oil industry that opening up more public land to oil and drilling leases and permits would lower surging U.S. gas prices. As both Psaki and Biden point out, Big Oil is already sitting on some 9,000 currently unused permits on millions of acres of land, as is. The GOP/Fox "News"/Big Oil axis of evil is really hoping that Americans don't know that, so they can blame Biden for the surge in global oil and gas prices...even as new polling finds American majorities are willing to pay more at the pump to help Ukraine and they want to expand renewable energy development, not fossil fuels.
  • The International Energy Agency (IAE) has a list of 10 things the EU can do to decrease gas use by at least 10% before year's end. Many of those things the U.S. can do as well. One thing many of us could and should do to lower the cost of gas in a big way during Russia's war on Ukraine --- since many of us already did it for much of the past two and a half years anyway, cleaning the skies and drastically lowering gas prices in the bargain --- WORK AT HOME AGAIN if possible!
  • The first January 6th insurrectionist to stand trial before a jury, was found guilty on all five felony counts today. (He's a helluva guy, apparently. Threatened to kill his own teenage children if they told on him. Ya know, as "patriots" do.) The DoJ hopes the result may lead other Trump insurrectionists to plead guilty. We hope it leads the DoJ to keep working their way up to the top of the insurrectionist cabal.
  • The leader of the violent rightwing street gang calling itself Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio --- who wasn't even at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 (because he was in police custody on a separate crime) --- was indicted, with several others in his gang of white hoodlums, on conspiracy charges related to their violent, coordinated attack on the Capitol. Tarrio had reportedly met with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes in a parking garage in the hours before the Republican assault on American democracy. Rhodes and several other Oath Keepers were also recently indicted on seditious conspiracy charges. And Rhodes, like another rightwing hoodlum facing new felony indictments in a separate matter (discussed below), had been a guest on The BradCast several years ago.
  • This story is amazing. Jesse Benton, a longtime Republican operative and former campaign manager for Senators Rand Paul (in 2010) and Mitch McConnell (in 2014), has already been pardoned for felony election fraud once, by Donald Trump in the closing days of his Administration. Now Benton has been indicted again, for more election fraud, and along with another former guest on The BradCast! Tune in for the full story, but Benton was originally charged and convicted some years ago for buying away an endorsement for about $75,000 from a Michele Bachmann supporter during the GOP Iowa Caucus in the 2012 Presidential campaign. At the time, he worked for Rand's father Ron Paul's Presidential campaign. Benton was sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine just days before the scheme he has now been indicted for which includes receiving $100,000 from an unnamed Russian national, keeping $75,000 for himself, and giving $25,000 of it to the campaign of "Political Candidate 1" in his own name, an unlawful straw donation to avoid laws barring foreign money in American elections. Benton promised a meeting with "Political Candidate 1" in Philadelphia on September 22, 2016, the day that Donald Trump happened to be holding a fundraiser there. They all took pictures together, according to the September indictment unsealed on Monday, along with Doug Wead, a GOP Presidential historian and, in recent years, far-right operative who appeared a number of times on this program some years ago. Wead, a Senior Advisor to Ron Paul's 2012 campaign was indicted as a co-conspirator with Benton. They both face the potential of a lot of time in prison. Each of the six counts charged against both of them carries sentencing of 5 to 20 years. But, yup, more Russian money in Donald Trump's 2016 election. Who could have guessed it?
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which we can barely keep up with Russia/Ukraine related events in the energy industry (including nuclear) and as the U.N. offers some good news for a change, in this case regarding global plastic pollution.

All of the above is much funnier, outraging, and/or more enlightening when heard in full on today's surprisingly lively BradCast (given what we have to work with at times like these)...

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Special coverage with guests Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; Also: TX primary results, election probs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2022 5:37pm PT  

"Democracies are rising to the moment," President Biden forcefully asserted during his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. "And the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security." Is he right? We discuss that and much more on Biden's impossible address last night on today's BradCast.

Before we jump in, however, it was also Election Day in Texas on Tuesday, the nation's first primaries of the 2022 mid-term cycle. We briefly cover the reported results of the top-line races for Governor and Attorney General, as well as some interesting House races with progressive challengers on the Democratic side. There were also several curious anomalies we are looking into out Houston's Harris County, regarding the reported shutdown of some polling places to Democrats (and others, purportedly, shut down to Republican voters); some post-election squabbles on delayed results from the County, reportedly due to problems tallying long ballots on their new, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems; and continuing concerns about thousands of rejected vote-by-mail ballots thanks to new restrictions on absentee voting enacted by the Republican lawmakers last year in the state's newly adopted SB1 law.

Our main focus today, of course, is on Biden's first SOTU. This one, amid a newly raging war on Ukraine, as the autocratic Russia continues its appalling attack on its democratic sovereign neighbor, and as the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday condemned Russia's aggression and atrocities by a lopsided 141 to 5 vote. There were 35 abstentions (including China) and support for Russia offered from Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Syria.

As if Biden didn't already have enough to worry about with the continuing, if waning (for now), pandemic; an insurrectionist and obstructionist Republican Party; two obstructionist Democrats blocking the bulk of his domestic agenda; and both an opposition party and corporate media hell-bent on weaponizing predictable post-pandemic inflation, even amid a booming economy with growing wages, record corporate profits, record low unemployment, and the highest growth in GDP since the 1980s. All of which has resulted, reasonably or not, resulted in Biden's approval ratings plummeting in advance of this year's critical mid-terms.

Any one of those issues (and, yes, there are more!) would be enough for one State of the Union address. Biden, somehow, had to deal with them all on Tuesday night.

We're joined today for our special coverage by fellow longtime progressive troublemakers and muckrakers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and RICHARD 'RJ' ESKOW of The Zero Hour.

There is a lot to discuss today, as we break down key moments from Biden's remarks. But, just for a taste, while they both Parton and Eskow laud the President for rising to the moment and bringing the world together regarding Russia, on the domestic front, political trouble may loom.

"Democrats always have this problem," Parton notes. "The historical pattern here is clear. The Republicans come in and they wreck the place, and Democrats come in and have to clean up the mess. And in the first two years, it's really hard."

"He's not getting a break from the media," Eskow argues. "I think people are also terribly sick of COVID, and he's had to bow to that fatigue. On the grand scheme of things, the big lesson here is the limits of Presidential power, and the fact that he would love to be doing a lot more. Here's a man who spent 50 years running for President, now he's got it, and I feel sorry for him."

Did last night serve to help Biden and the Democrats change their trajectory as we head toward a mid-term election which the media continues to remind voters is (almost always) a historically difficult one for the party in power? Tune in for our special coverage and conversation on that and much, much more...

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And other troubling war news; Also: GOP Congressmembers speak at pro-Putin White Supremacist rally; Huge percentage of TX mid-term ballots rejected under new GOP absentee ballot restrictions...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2022 6:17pm PT  

Gotta keep this very brief as tonight's State of the Union address begins shortly (full coverage on tomorrow's BradCast), but the madness of Putin's war on Ukraine continues today, as some Republicans here at home seem to be rooting both for him and against democracy itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We begin again today with coverage of the latest noteworthy news out of Russia/Ukraine, along with a few warnings about propaganda from all sides and the potential for erroneous reports amid the fog of war. Among the many stories covered today...

  • The office of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is reporting today that Russian bombs fell on Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site in Kyiv where some 34,000 Ukrainians were slaughtered by Nazis during one 48 period in 1941. The news offers a bizarre twist on the "denazification" that Vladimir Putin used as a phony pretext --- along with false claims of stopping a "genocide" --- when he launched his unprovoked attack on Ukraine last week.
  • Nearly 700,000 refugees have reportedly fled the country, with tens of thousands still trying to get out. But more than 40 million men, women and children remain, and are still facing bombardment while valiantly defending the country and its major cities. For now.
  • Swiss authorities report that the firm responsible for running the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany on behalf Gazprom, the Russia-controlled gas giant which owns the pipeline, have been laid off and the company overseeing the project is either in or near bankruptcy. That, after Germany stopped certification of the new pipeline as Russia launched its war last week and as sanctions have resulted in the pipeline firm being unable to pay its workers.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA)'s 31 member countries, including the U.S., declared they will be releasing 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in hopes of preventing global shortages and to ease the soaring price of crude. Knowing Big Oil and fossil fuel market speculators, its unlikely to have much effect. Though moving the world off of fossil fuels MUCH faster just might help!
  • In a kind of amazing story, a Russian government climate scientist publicly apologized to Ukrainian scientists over the weekend during the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s final session to complete the group's latest blockbuster report released on Monday. The Russian scientist offered his "apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict," adding that "all of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine."
  • Those remarks echo some points we tried to make on yesterday's BradCast in response to a few on the left (hopefully very few) who seem to be placing inappropriate blame on the U.S. and NATO for Russia's outrageous aggression and war crimes. While the U.S. and NATO have made a number of missteps since the fall of the Soviet Union, only Russia can be blamed for the deadly, unprovoked military assault now underway on an unthreatening neighboring sovereign nation. Here is a very short and helpful metaphor to help folks understand all of this, casting Ukraine as a woman trying to break up with her abusive ex.
  • And, while the fight for democracy overseas is at a perilous moment, the Republican Party here at home continues to have completely lost its way. (Or, maybe, has finally found it.) Far-right Congressmembers Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) both appeared at a white nationalist rally over the weekend, where the leader of the group praised their "secret sauce" of "young white men" as the crowd cheered for Putin just before MTG took the podium. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) condemned both of his colleagues on CNN on Sunday, noting, "I've got morons on my team." One of those morons, as we also discuss after playing some audio of his comments on the House floor today, is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
  • It's mid-term primary Election Day in Texas today and, as we discussed last week with the President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the state's new GOP-adopted voting restrictions are resulting in a huge percentage of absentee ballots being rejected --- nearly 30%, for example, in Houston's Harris County. By way of contrast, the last mid-term elections in Texas in 2018, saw a 1% rejection of vote-by-mail ballots statewide. Some late absentee voters may still have until March 7 to cure any ballot deficiencies if they can get to the County Clerk's office in person to do so.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, with more news on energy related sanctions and Russia; the disturbing new, 4,000 page IPCC report; and the U.S. Supreme Court's latest attempt to gut the EPA's statutory power to regulate deadly fossil fuel emissions...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Grace Chimene, President, TX League of Women Voters on alarming mid-term primary ballot rejection rate; Also: Biden announces 'first tranche' of Russian sanctions in response to 'invasion'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2022 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The greatest threat to autocracy is, of course, democracy. Which is why, I believe, Vladimir Putin is now threatening Ukraine and why Republicans in this country are (successfully) attacking the right to vote itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On Ukraine today, we share the latest in the increasingly dangerous standoff that threatens to spark all out war in Eastern Europe, unlike anything seen since WWII. That, on the heels of Putin's increasingly militaristic and bellicose pronouncements and his unilateral declaration on Monday that two Russia-backed, separatist-controlled regions in the eastern part of Ukraine are now independent "republics" that Russian troops may enter (invade) at will, in defiance of international law.

In response to the increased aggression, and in hopes of staving off a full-scale invasion, the U.S. and some 27 European Union members have begun to institute a series of sanctions, including Germany's announcement that they are halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, a lucrative project for Russia which they had spent years working to open.

In Washington today, President Biden offered brief remarks which we share, decrying the Russian President for "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine" in defiance of international law, even as Biden remains hopeful that diplomacy is still possible. At the same time, however, he announced what he described as the "first tranche" of economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, as well as several elites and their family members, with much more to come if a full scale invasion is launched.

There is, of course, much discussion and debate about all of this, with experts and pundits choosing up sides and offering explanations for Putin's behavior. The U.S. and EU and NATO certainly play a part in this potentially lethal failure of post-WWII, post-Cold War European diplomacy. But the point for now that rings most true, at least to me, was cited today by the WaPo Editorial Board arguing that Putin's "true reason for targeting Ukraine is not Russian national security but to preserve his own power in Moscow, which would be threatened by a successful democratic experiment in a former Soviet republic of Ukraine’s size and cultural importance."

Yes, authoritarians hate democracy. It's as simple as that. Which is why we've seen, in this country of late, so many voter suppression laws adopted by GOP-controlled states in the wake of Donald Trump's loss in 2020 and his false, evidence-free claims that the election was stolen from him through some sort of "fraud".

We've covered --- and warned about --- the many new voting restrictions adopted by Republican-controlled states and legislatures since 2020 for months. Now we are finally seeing how those new suppression laws are having a direct and disastrous effect on actual elections, beginning with Texas, which is the first state to hold its primaries for the 2022 mid-terms, next Tuesday.

With new restrictions on absentee voting --- in one of the most difficult states to vote by mail already! --- an extraordinarily high percentage of absentee ballot applications have been rejected in recent weeks in the state's most populous counties. Many of the rejected applications --- more than 30% in Houston's Harris County --- were due to the new, and at times impossible, requirements to include identifying information that exactly matches that on the voter's record, even if they registered to vote decades ago and have no clue whether they included a drivers license number or a social security number or no number at all at the time.

But of those who are able to finally get an absentee ballot, the rejection rates, so far, of actual ballots in advance of next week's Election Day are stunning. 35% of ballots are being rejected in Harris County, the state's most populous (and most African-American); 26% of mail-in ballots in Dallas County; and 25% of ballots are being nixed in Collins County, just north of Dallas.

We're joined today by GRACE CHIMENE, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas, to explain what is going on in the Lone Star State; why it's going on; whether Republicans (whose voters are also being suppressed, if not in as large numbers) have any concerns about what is going on; and what, if anything, can be done about any of it in time for next Tuesday or, at the very least, before this November, when the number of voters --- and rejected applications and ballots --- will be much much higher unless the state's SB1 law is amended or blocked by the courts.

Chimene cites Texas officials who declared the 2020 election as "a very safe and secure election." Nonetheless, she notes, "the officials and the politicians who are writing these bills were the ones who won during the election. And it was safe and secure. So, really, I don't think they thought of this SB1 voter suppression bill, I don't think they thought of these ideas themselves. I think they came from someplace else and they were pushed out trying to meet somebody else's agenda of suppressing the vote even further here in Texas."

Election officials are now barred from informing eligible voters that they may vote by mail and, even when their applications or ballots are rejected, they are forced to be circumspect about why. Chimene explained that eventually officials were allowed to send a postcard to notify voters about rejected applications, but "what they don't tell them is where the mistake was in their application. They're not being told why the application was rejected, they're just notified that it was a rejected application." Notifying voters of rejected BALLOTS has been similarly fraught. "It's just a mess," the longtime non-partisan voting advocate tells us.

Chimene says that she "was hoping for some federal help, through federal legislation, such as updating the Voting Rights Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and it was so disappointing that that didn't happen." She calls out Texas Republicans for targeting voters and federal law enforcement for an inadequate response to it: "The issue is, who do they want to vote in the election, and how can they stop it? And it's just very disheartening to see this happening and that there's no help coming from the federal government."

What is now happening, in alarming numbers in Texas, Chimene explains, is "a way to stop people who have been voting for a very long time, very successfully, very securely and safely, and now they're unable to participate in the democracy. It's just bad news for democracy."

We seem to have quite a bit of that today...And not just in Texas...

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Guest: Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright; Also: Cawthorn ballot woes worsen in NC; Trumpy CO County Clerk arrested; National Archives refers Trump Presidential records theft to DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2022 6:40pm PT  

Three years ago this month on The BradCast, we spoke with the Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley as Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security was busting locks on the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary to roll in heavy construction equipment to build Trump's dopey border wall. Last week, the Center was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to worsening violent threats and menacing from Trump's MAGA mob. Last night, she met with the FBI. Today, the Center's Executive Director joins us again to discuss the increasing madness of what is going on down there now, more than a year after Trump was tossed out of office. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a couple of amusing and/or encouraging updates to other stories we've been covering in some detail on this program.

We have new news out of North Carolina, where Republican MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for reelection is being challenged at the State Board of Elections by state voters working with the Constitutional law experts at the non-partisan Free Speech for People good government group. The complaint to the SBE alleges that Cawthorn, who participated in the January 6 rallies and their planning, is ineligible to run for federal office in the state, based on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. Rather than defend himself in a Board hearing, as required by state law, Cawthorn filed suit last week in federal court charging the state Board has no right to determine whether he meets eligibility requirements for the ballot. In their response to the suit this week, CNN reported last night, the Board disagrees. Their motion explains that "States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case obviously has serious implications for a number of other MAGA Caucus members of Congress who participated in the January 6th insurrection and huge implications for Donald Trump's ability to be on the ballot in 2024 in the critical swing-state, if he decides to run again. We discuss that and a few more follow up details on the heels of today's update, following on our in-depth conversation last week about the original complaint with Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People.

NEXT, following up on a story we covered in great detail last year, the disgraced and very Trumpy Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, was arrested on Tuesday. And the video of her being taken into custody by law enforcement officials is pretty hilarious. You may recall that, in 2020, in the middle of the night, Peters snuck into the secured room where voting equipment is kept in her County with an unauthorized person. They turned off the security cameras and made copies of hard drives containing the critical Election Management System (EMS) software on the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked onto the Internet as Peters participated in a loony "Cybersecurity Forum" with "Stop the Steal" conspiracist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell just days before the same critical software was to be used in several California counties during the GOP's failed attempt to recall the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Peters was removed from her duties by the state's Secretary of State and is now being investigated by the state's Attorney General. But her arrest on Tuesday was reportedly related to her use of an iPad to unlawfully record a court hearing for one of her deputies who was also removed from office in relation to the software theft. And, yes, the video of Peters' arrest, as you'll hear, is kinda hilarious.

THEN, we're joined by MARIANNA TREVIÑO-WRIGHT, Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in far south Texas, which was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week. The sad --- but, hopefully temporary --- news comes on the heels of increasingly violent threats and targeting by Trump's MAGA mobsters over the past three years. She explains how those threats have worsened during that time and in recent days, ever since the Center attempted to sue the Trump Administration in 2017 to stop construction of his border wall on and near the Center's property on the banks of the Rio Grande River in the city of Mission. (We interviewed Treviño-Wright about that on this program in February of 2019.)

The targeting that the Center has endured, as she explains today, includes "outrageous lies" beginning in the fall of 2019, when Steve Bannon and supporters of his fraudulent "We Build the Wall" project (for which he was indicted and later pardoned by Trump) claimed that the wildlife preserve and study area was actually "a cartel front and engaged in human trafficking, that we were selling women and children in to sex slavery [and] that there were dead bodies and terrorists on the property."

"They tell these lies because they work," Treviño-Wright tells me today, citing the QAnon "Pizzagate" lie that almost turned deadly and the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, just days after a nearby "We Build the Wall" rally. Two weekends ago in Mission, there was a "We Stand America" rally featuring Trump's disgraced National Security Advisor and QAnon hero Michael Flynn, which coincided with a physical altercation at the Center with a MAGA Congressional candidate from Virginia. There were also a number of rightwing media outlets who shot videos outside the sanctuary, suggesting that the Center was a way-point for human traffickers.

After the 2019 targeting, Treviño-Wright says, "the militia arrived, and a whole bunch of angry people unleashed a torrent of hate, of threats --- by mail, by phone, email, you name it. They came here to tell us to our face what despicable human beings we were, how we should be hanged and burned and all of that."

But menacing "indirect threats" have worsened in recent days, leading to her meeting on Tuesday night with the FBI to discuss a neo-Nazi who, she explains, has "gone to federal prison three times, most recently for his role in inciting the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre," who has recently moved to Texas. "He has been posting online messages using my photo and workplace, and urging the members of his church in his holy war to find out where I live, and everything they can about my children," Treviño-Wright details. You may or may not be shocked by what she says she was told last night by the FBI.

In the meantime, she tells me that the Board of Directors at the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the Center, "is actively seeking to engage licensed security professionals to do the assessments necessary and make the recommendations for training, for physical assets that we need on the property, and maybe even for additional personnel, so that we can re-open safely." But, she laments, "armed guards at a nature center is not at all the kind of look we are going for."

Citing the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's policies allowing for indiscriminate, unlicensed open or concealed carry of firearms, Treviño-Wright describes charges it's "the wild wild West down here," though not due to "the things that Fox News and other are saying" about some sort of "crisis" at the border. "The call is coming from inside the house," she asserts. "That's where we are in the United States now. The terrorism is home-grown, and it's our own neighbors and relatives."

Treviño-Wright goes on to offer a timeline for when the Center may be able to re-open to the public; how members of the public can help in the meantime (a membership with the Center, she explains, "comes with benefits for people across the United States" and will help to continue paying employees during these weeks they are forced to remain closed); the status of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the nearby construction on the river, which she says the Biden Administration is continuing under the guise of "levee repair"; and much more --- including some actual good news on butterfly survival if you can imagine such a thing!

She is a fantastic guest and, frankly, a great American. Please tune in for our conversation today.

FINALLY, we close with late breaking word from WaPo that the National Archives has reportedly asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Trump's mishandling of Presidential records --- including absconding to Mar-a-Lago with some 15 boxes of them --- is a criminal violation of the Presidential Records Act. (Which, of course it is. The question is whether Merrick Garland's DoJ will do the right thing and take action on it. Don't hold your breath...)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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